What Souvenirs Should You Get in Muscat Oman?
In late 2019, just before the worldwide pandemonium started, I had a chance to visit Muscat, Oman on a one-day transit. That one day was enough to make me realize just how beautiful Oman is. Not only that — the country is also renowned for its unique artifacts and handicrafts.
A visit to Oman would be incomplete if you were to skip one of its traditional markets (also known as souks). Since it was my first time in the Middle East, everything was foreign to me and I was truly fascinated by all they had to offer.
But a busy souk in Muscat can feel overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. So, here’s a list of the best Omani souvenirs that you must not miss when you visit this charming city:
This is something that I wish I had bought, if only I had known how precious they were. This yellowish stone-like incense is considered a treasure for the Omanis and is traditionally gifted to the royals.
It is still treasured today, thanks to its antiseptic properties, which — when taken orally — can help prevent and treat mouth infections, including cavities, toothaches, mouth sores, and gingivitis.
Sold either in its original form or as an essential oil, frankincense also produces a unique scent when burned. You can see it being sold everywhere, especially in traditional souks.
Pottery is another one of the many specialties of Oman. Not only used for decoration, these clay works also have some practical uses, such as for storing dates and grains, for drinking water, for burning incense, and even for cooking.
Most of the traditional pottery crafts are sold in their original terracotta color, but there are also some that are decoratively painted in other colors. Whatever your choice is, it would surely make a great gift for your friends and family.
3. Woven Palm Handicrafts
Being a land in the deserts, Oman has an abundance of palm trees. Almost every house has one, and you can also see them around hotels, malls, and lining the streets.
Palm trees are not only valued for their fruits, but also for their leaves, which can be crafted into baskets, mats, and other decorative pieces. The handwoven palm-leaf baskets are used to store dates, to cook meat in, and to make date honey. All intriguing stuff, right?
4. Mandoos (Wooden Chests)
Omani wood is renowned for its superior quality and its ability to be carved and shaped into various objects. Omanis typically use it for doors, window frames, and furniture, but the most popular wooden product in Oman is the mandoo, which is a wooden chest decorated with engravings and gold platings.
Available in many sizes, it can be used to store clothes, jewelry, and dry food.
Along with wood, Omani silver is also considered superior in the Arab world. In the past, silver was mainly used to make a variety of women’s jewelry, including bangles, necklaces, anklets, rings, and earrings.
But today, it has diversified even more and is used to make other products like perfume bottles, jewelry boxes, frankincense burners, coffee pots, and even daggers.
Omani silver crafts typically feature Islamic designs, such as geometric shapes and Arabic calligraphy.
6. Traditional Clothes
Unlike in some other Middle Eastern regions where women only wear black, women’s traditional dresses in Oman come in many different colors and matching scarves (although black is still a popular choice).
Similarly, men’s dishdasha (traditional robe) is available in many colors and is often paired with the colorful traditional cap called kummah.
Buying a piece of traditional Omani clothing for your wardrobe is a great way to remind you of your trip to Oman.
7. Camel Milk Products
When in Rome, eat as the Romans do. When in Oman, eat as the Omanis do. While camel meat is a popular dish in Oman, don’t forget to try the milk as well, and bring home some camel-milk products as souvenirs.
Visit any supermarket or convenience store and you’ll find pasteurized camel milk (plain and flavored), camel-milk chocolates, candies, cheese, and yogurt. Camel milk is also used to make non-food items like soaps, lotions, and other beauty products.
8. Amouage Perfume
Amouage Perfume is a luxury perfume house established by the Sultan of Oman in 1983. His Highness had always had a dream to restore the great Arabian art of perfumery to the region, and as a result, Amouage perfume is not only famous in the country but also internationally.
It uses traditional Middle Eastern perfume ingredients, such as agarwood, musk, incense, rose, and spices.
If you love fragrances, you’d want to add one or two Amouge perfumes to your collection. Although it is available worldwide, it’s much cheaper to buy it in Oman. You can also tour the factory in Muscat for free to see how it is processed and try the different scents.
9. Khanjar (Omani Dagger)
I’m not one to buy sharp objects because I’m too clumsy for that, but if you’re into collectible weapons, you might want to get your hands on a khanjar, a traditional Omani dagger.
The khanjar is more than a mere weapon — it is also a work of art and a national symbol. It’s very synonymous to Omani culture that it’s even featured on their national flag.
The blade is curved and is commonly made of gold, silver, copper, or brass, whereas the handle is made of wood. There are also cheaper materials available at reasonable prices.
10. Oman Honey & Dates
Honey and dates are two of the most cherished food items in the Islamic culture because they were the favorite foods of the Prophet.
Having earned a few mentions in the Koran, honey and dates are also said to have many therapeutic properties and are a good source of calories to keep you full during the fasting month.
It would be a shame to visit Oman and not taste (or buy) some Omani dates and honey. There are many different varieties of dates to choose from, so have fun tasting!
Where to Buy Souvenirs in Muscat
From clay urns to silver necklaces, Oman is full of authentic handicrafts and you can find most of them in Muscat.
The best place to buy souvenirs in Oman is in a traditional souk. One of the most famous ones is in Muscat, called Muttrah Souk. Located about 32 kilometres from the international airport, it has all sorts of high-quality souvenirs and daily items you could ever look for, including clothes and food items.
Just be sure to hone your haggling skills to get the best value for your money!
Which one(s) of these souvenirs do you think you would buy in Oman? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
You’re so lucky that you got to go at least for a day! I am hoping to visit once this pandemic is over – if it ever is! Thank you for sharing – makes me yearn for international travel just that little bit more.
You’re welcome, Katerina! I hope you’ll get to visit. I’m also hoping this pandemic will be over soon. Fingers crossed!